Posted at 7:00 am
Lila Dussault The Press
The housing crisis continues to take its toll: This summer, new faces are popping up in Quebec’s homeless resources. Meanwhile, dozens of households still homeless as of July 1 are struggling to find a roof.
“In the Hôtel-Dieu alone, the number of people asking for help has increased by more than 50% since July 1st. It is obviously important,” says Julie Grenier, Counselor of Mission Bon Accueil. Hôtel-Dieu is a 24-hour emergency shelter for the homeless in Montreal.
The metropolis isn’t the only city in Quebec where we’re seeing an increase in homelessness. In Gatineau, three accommodation establishments (Mon Calme, Transit and Gîte Ami) welcomed 68 new guests between May 1st and July 31st. Of these, 27 had lost their homes in the three months prior to their arrival.
“We have middle-class people who didn’t have a problem before,” says Éric Boulay, general manager of Lauberivière in Quebec.
I have more and more people who have a job and unfortunately end up here. There they run the risk of developing psychological problems. We create new travelers.
Eric Boulay, CEO of Lauberiviere
Between 2017 and 2021, Quebec City’s number of room nights that Lauberivière offered to homeless people increased from 24,808 to 41,300, a nearly 40% increase in occupancy.
At Partage Saint-François, a Sherbrooke organization, we have to turn down applications every night for lack of places. Even if the general director Sébastien Laberge does not see a drastic increase in the number of refusals, “there is an increase in requests from year to year”, he affirms.
It’s getting harder and harder to get off the road
Organizations agree: one of the consequences of the housing shortage is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to help people off the streets.
In the Outaouais, the rise in rents, the lack of housing and social housing are making things difficult. “Some new users work but can no longer find accommodation,” complains François Lstairs of Gîte Ami. And with Gatineau facing an acute shortage of public housing, the length of stay at our locations is increasing. In short, the continuum of services we offer is like a funnel that is about to clog. »
A vision shared by Sébastien Laberge at Sherbrooke. “The housing crisis is affecting people affected by homelessness, but not for entry. For the exit,” he says.
Not to mention that violence and mental health problems have also increased tenfold, says Mr. Laberge.
What has been blatant in recent years are cases of violence, severe poisoning and psychoses. We see cases every day that four or five years ago we saw once a week or once a month.
Sebastien Laberge, General Director of Partage Saint-François
According to him, the health network is no longer able to provide the necessary services to the homeless. As a result, “we have open-air shelters on our streets,” he laments.
In Quebec, Lauberivière is lifting many more people out of homelessness than 20 years ago, explains Mr. Boulay. “But the need is so great that it is not enough. »
Dozens of households are still looking for a home
Meanwhile, dozens of households escorted by Quebec’s municipal emergency services since July 1 are struggling to move. According to Véronique Laflamme, spokeswoman for the Popular Action Front in Urban Redevelopment (FRAPRU), there were 121 in Montreal and 73 in Drummondville as of Thursday. As of August 1, 500 households across the province were still homeless, according to a compilation by FRAPRU.
Many live with relatives, we have family camping. The more time goes by, the less these B plans hold water.
Véronique Laflamme, FRAPRU spokesperson
It is clear that the support that the Quebec government has been offering since May to accompany families on the streets is not bringing the expected results. As of Thursday, only 100 of the 1,600 rent subsidies on offer by the government had been awarded, Ms Laflamme said. Why ? Lack of housing or landlord willing to rent to tenants who will benefit.
“The social safety net in housing is riddled, claims Ms Laflamme. We haven’t invested in social housing for years. This puts people in totally unacceptable situations for a rich society like ours. How long will we tolerate this? »
5789 Estimated number of people experiencing visible homelessness in Quebec in 2018
3149 Estimated number of people experiencing visible homelessness in Montreal in 2018
SOURCE: Department of Health and Human Services